Posted on September 21, 2019 at 8:01 am by Gene Ambaum
Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by The Waiter (Steve Dublanica). (He was anonymous initially, but later editions revealed his name at the end of the book, and now it’s on the cover.) 9780061256684. Harper Collins, 2008. 302pp.
The Waiter who wrote this book didn’t plan to wait tables. The pace, the idea of taking home cash every night, and the lack of other job prospects in a slow economy kept him at The Bistro. The whole time he bemoaned his job — all he really wanted was to spend more time on this book.
The chapter “Heaven and Hell” is one that anyone who works with the public will be able to understand, and my favorite. The Waiter recounts the time he had a shitty week — he was tired and cranky from working all the time and the tips were barely covering his bills. He was once again thinking about throwing in his apron and getting a “real” job. An affluent young family brought his attention to the homeless man who camped out near The Bistro. The Waiter’s heart grew three sizes (much like the Grinch’s) when the family bought dinner for the homeless man. After the Waiter took him his dinner, the man commented, “Sartre was only half right. People can be Heaven, too.” But the public can be a weird, needy group, too — sometimes they will curse out their server if their eggs were cooked over-medium instead of over-well, and the after-church crowd may leave servers religious tracts instead of money.
Like the Waiter, I never ever spit in anyone’s food while I was on the job, but I did enjoy making certain condescending jerks sweat. I had one guy who would repeatedly come in at lunch, never get off his cell phone, and would always shoo me away when I tried to take his order. On the third day of Mr. Businessman’s rude behavior, I ignored the boorish way he waved me over while still on his phone and came to his table last. I had already taken everyone else in my section’s orders; some were already eating. He was the last person left in my section and was pretty miffed. I told him sweetly, “You always looked so busy when you come in that I didn’t want to interrupt you. Would you like to hear today’s specials?” And there was a guy who literally growled at me when I tried to take away his menu. I told him, “Don’t growl at me, dude, I see your food before you do!” He laughed out loud and became one of my regulars. I called him “Growly” although he insisted his mother named him Dave.
The tips I earned as a waitress put me through school — I never had to take out a student loan. It’s hard to explain the adrenaline rush of waiting tables to someone who has never done it, but the waiter really shows that it’s a bit like performing a one-person show where anyone in the “theater” (fellow wait staff, cooks, bartenders, bus people, customers, etc.) can ruin your night. Everyone on this planet should wait tables for at least six months. If you decide to take up the challenge, you will appreciate the long hours on your feet (instant calf muscles), the dedication of the kitchen crews who are usually there before sunrise and can’t leave until after closing, and the way your ability to memorize while multi-tasking will improve, because you’ll want to get paid for the experience, right? You may discover hidden talents and the ability to thrive in chaos. At worst, after the experience you will never tip less than 20 percent again.
Thanks to Murphysmom for this guest book review!
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